École normale supérieure de Lyon

École normale supérieure de Lyon

École normale supérieure de Lyon Details

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The École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is an elite French public institution that trains professors, researchers, senior civil servants as well as business and political leaders. Students choose their courses and split their time between training and research in sciences and humanities. Founded in 1880, the ENS de Lyon also focuses on educational research. It is a symbol of French Republican meritocracy and it remains committed today to disseminating knowledge to the widest audience and to promoting equal opportunity.

The ENS de Lyon is part of the Université de Lyon and supports quality research that has earned it a Fields medal (Cedric Villani, 2010) and many CNRS medals. It encourages interdisciplinary studies to foster a better understanding of complex contemporary issues.

Top-flight research and academics, rich student life… Discover 8 of the many reasons why students from around the world study at the ENS de Lyon.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

Science departments

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Earth Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Humanities departments

  • Art: History or Art, Cinema and Theater
  • Foreign Languages: Linguistics, Civilizations and Literatures
  • French: French and Francophone, Modern, Medieval and Classical Literature
  • Human Sciences: Philosophy, History, Geography
  • Social Sciences: Anthropology, Sociology


The Fontenay school, for girls, was founded by the decree of 13 July 1880.

The Saint-Cloud school, for boys, was founded by the decree of 22 December 1882. These two École Normale Supérieure were founded by Jules Ferry.

1887: The decree of 18 January 1887 transformed the previous institutions into Écoles normales supérieures de l’enseignement primaire (of primary education), institutions which were free and modern, that is without compulsory Latin. The pupils were granted scholarships and were recruited using a competitive examination open to holders of the higher diploma or the baccalaureate who had signed a ten-year service commitment.

1897: The length of studies was increased from two to three years.

1945: The decree of 19 February 1945 granted both institutions the title of Écoles normales préparatoires à l’enseignement secondaire (institutions of preparation for secondary education). Pupils trained for the CAEC, then the CAPES teaching qualifications.

1956: The length of studies was increased to four years and the preparation of the agrégation teaching qualification appeared in the regulations.

As part of France’s process of decentralisation, the scientific departments moved to Lyon in 1987, with the creation of the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon.

Humanities students remained in what was called the ENS de Fontenay/St Cloud. In 2000, the humanities were transferred to the École Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines, also located in the Gerland district.

On 1 January 2010, the scientific branch and the arts, humanities and social sciences branch merged to become a single institution, retaining the name École Normale Supérieure de Lyon.

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